Have I Read You Somewhere Before?


I think one of the Booking Through Thursday topics in the past has been about re-reading books, but my current re-read of the Mapp and Lucia books by EF Benson has made me think about it again… I always thought I wasn’t much of a re-reader. So many books, so little time was my mantra – but… it appears to have all changed this year. Since January began, I’ve re-read the following:

Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day – Winifred Watson
Year In, Year Out – A.A. Milne
Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
Speaking of Love – Angela Young
The Love Child – Edith Oliver
The L-Shaped Room – Lynne Reid Banks
The Twins at St. Clare’s – Enid Blyton
The O’Sullivan Twins – Enid Blyton
Summer Term at St. Clare’s – Enid Blyton
Second Form at St. Clare’s – Enid Blyton
The Provincial Lady Goes Further – E.M. Delafield
Queen Lucia – E.F. Benson
Miss Mapp – E.F. Benson
Lucia in London – E.F. Benson

Gosh. Last year, as I found out whilst doing this meme, I only re-read six books; this year I’m on sixteen already. I wonder why…

Partly it’s because I don’t have books to read for university (or haven’t, until this point), but on the other hand I have lots of books to review for Stuck-in-a-Book which are neglected whilst I re-read. Perhaps I’ve come to the point in my reading life, which only really started properly in 2000, where I want to dip back into the past. Maybe I just want a guaranteed good read – but partly it’s because I’ve realised just how subjective an experience with a book can be, and how short. I read a book in, say, four days. It might – like quite a few on the list above – be one of my favourite books. How odd that it should be on a favourites list for years, and have only occupied that amount of time in my life… so a re-read is to test the waters and see if they still make for pleasant paddling.

So much has been said about re-reading; I must get around to reading Anne Fadiman’s book on the topic. I don’t really know where to throw in my tuppence worthy, other than to say that re-reading this year has brought me more pleasure than almost anything else I’ve read – but I can’t *quite* shake the idea that I should be reading something new. What do you think?

8 thoughts on “Have I Read You Somewhere Before?

  • September 7, 2008 at 11:31 pm
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    I rarely reread. There are too many books out there that I haven’t read yet.

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  • September 8, 2008 at 7:42 am
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    I don’t seem to read much these days, let alone re-read. What I really popped in to your comments for was to ask how your foot is as these things can be more painful a day or 2 later.
    How are you?

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  • September 8, 2008 at 9:03 am
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    Thanks for asking, Ruth! Stil uncomfortable, but not really more than uncomfortable. Did some driving yesterday, and found it hurt less than walking… so shall just hobble around for a few days!

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  • September 8, 2008 at 9:51 am
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    I too rarely re-read, although I have just re-read Cold Comfort Farm like yourself. I do think that one should read for pleasure and that selects the modality, but I also fell that it is important to read books that are new, and (I’m sure we have discussed this somewhere before) outside one’s “comfort zone”.

    Dark Puss

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  • September 8, 2008 at 1:26 pm
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    I love to re-read books – just wish I had more time to do so as, along with your other posters – I do think it’s important to read new stuff. But one gets such a richness out of rereading – especially when a significant time has passed – you view the book (and yourself) completely differently. Some authors – like Virginia Woolf, for example – demand constant re-reading if only to appreciate the technique behind her writing. Or to wallow in the language. Poetry requires re-reading. So does Shakespeare. And I love the jolting experience of discovering a book read 20 years ago is not at all the same as the one you remembered.
    A lovely book along with Fadiman’s is Alberto Manguel’s A Reading Diary – he re-reads 12 books, one a month, for a year and writes about the experience.

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  • September 8, 2008 at 2:50 pm
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    “How odd that it should be on a favourites list for years, and have only occupied that amount of time in my life” – very interesting, and it really makes me think. You are so right – if I really love a book, as I think I do, shouldn’t I spend more than a short bit of time with it? My re-reads are often audiobooks. It is a good way for me because I can be reading one print book, and re-reading a book via listening. I ought to go through and see how many I’ve read for a second (or more) time this year. Really a fascinating concept. And frankly, I’m all about ‘comfort zone.’ Honestly, reading is one of the only choices we ever have in this life, and I’ll be damned (oops, can I say that?) if I’m going to waste a minute of that time reading about slashers or vampires or starving children. The news offers enough, thank you very much.

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  • September 9, 2008 at 4:04 am
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    I love to re-read old favourites and books that I want to give a second chance.

    Re-readings edited by Anne Fadiman was an enjoyable read and made me feel less guilty about indulging in re-reading!

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  • September 10, 2008 at 10:05 am
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    Simon – you have made me think about this and I am going to follow your lead and post about re-reading when I have a mo to sit and think (currently reading lots of new stuff so perhaps that is why I want to return to re-reads). Thanks for pointing me in this direction, off now to put kettle on and ponder

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